REVIEW: Thriller Live, Sunderland Empire until Saturday, July 16

The cast of Thriller Live, Magnus Einang, Blaze Ellis Porter, AJ Lewis, Samantha Johnson and Nathan James prepare for their performance's at the Sunderland Empire this week.
The cast of Thriller Live, Magnus Einang, Blaze Ellis Porter, AJ Lewis, Samantha Johnson and Nathan James prepare for their performance's at the Sunderland Empire this week.
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OFF the Wall and off our seats, Thriller Live showed that the King of Pop still reigns.

I was sceptical about whether one show could condense four decades of musical history and dozens of hits into two hours.

But the music and energy of the cast soon blew away my doubts.

Things took a little while to get going. Blaze Ellis-Porter, as boyhood Michael Jackson, had a couple of minor wobbles at the start, but his confidence seemed to grow as the show went on and he finished the night dancing and singing with aplomb.

AJ Lewis was the most impressive vocal performer of the night, powering his way through many of Jackson’s biggest numbers.

But fellow lead vocalists Dwayne Wint, Nathan James and Samantha Johnson were not far behind AJ for quality, the variety provided by their respective voices showing just how versatile Jackson was during his career.

The evening really came alive from the moment we were urged to get on our feet and take part in a left-vs-right sing-off during Shake Your Body.

Then it seemed unrelenting as the likes of Off The Wall, Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, Can You Feel It, Pretty Young Thing, Beat It, Dirty Diana and the more subtle man In The Mirror and Heal The World told us Jackson’s life story.

This was a real celebration, with a talented group of dancers spectacularly supporting the singers.

The best was saved for last with perhaps Jackson’s biggest moments – Thriller and his unforgettable “moonwalk” to Beat It brilliantly reproduced by lead dancer Sean Christopher.

Throw in a stage set that cleverly used lights, video and platforms to move the action along, and the powerful musical accompaniment and you have a cracking night.

My nine-year-old son danced and clapped as enthusiastically as any of the single-gloved afficianados, proving this is show to satisfy Jackson fans of all generations.